There is a lot of buzz right now about compression-only CPR. The Savannah Chapter of the American Red Cross is addressing the issue ahead of any confusion about the difference between compression-only and full CPR and their effectiveness.
In some cases, compression-only CPR is the best technique for a non-certified, lay responder (bystander) who witnesses the sudden collapse of an adult.
“The key word in that sentence is ‘witness,’” said Dan Kurtz, director of health and safety. “Compression-only CPR should not be used if the bystander does not witness the collapse, and should never be used on a child or an infant. If you come across an adult who may be in cardiac arrest with no knowledge of how it happened, it may have been a breathing emergency like asthma that caused the cardiac arrest. In that case, you need to perform full CPR because there is no oxygen in the blood.”
Compression-only CPR is only effective when a person suffers sudden cardiac arrest. In that instance there is already oxygen in the blood. Performing compressions at a rapid rate (100 per minute) helps to circulate that oxygen through the body, keeping vital organs alive.
Kurtz continued: “Compression-only CPR is not a substitute for full training. In fact, people who need the training to meet state and federal requirements, people in the workplace who have a duty to respond, and those who work with infants and children are still required to be fully trained. Further, an automated external defibrillator (AED) should be used as soon as it becomes available, regardless of whether or not the bystander witnessed the collapse. The AED will not deliver a shock to a patient unless a shockable heart rhythm is present. That includes no heart rhythm.”